I’ve slowly been working my way through all of the Hawaiian islands, and recent trips have included stays at the Trump Waikiki on Oahu, and the Montage Kapalua Bay on Maui. But as much as I enjoyed those trips, this time I was looking for a sit-on-the-beach-and-do-nothing kind of vibe, and as I did my research, Lanai looked like it would be the perfect match.
The timing worked out well for my May trip, since the Larry Ellison-owned Four Seasons Lanai had just completed a vast refurbishment a few months earlier and was was offering a 4th night free as part of the re-opening. This would be our second stay at a Four Seasons hotel and were eager to see how it would compare to our previous stay at the Four Season Seychelles.
We arrived at the boat dock in Lanai and were warmly greeted by the hotel’s welcome squad who immediately adorned us with lei’s. We hopped in the hotel shuttle and surprisingly arrived at the hotel lobby just 3 minutes later. The lobby was about as open-air as you can get, with not a door in sight.
The vibe of the hotel could be described as “subtle luxury” in that you could tell that everything was of highest quality, without the need to rub that in your face like other hotels may have done. The centerpiece of the lobby was a large wooden canoe that was placed in-between the entrances to the hotel’s main restaurants, NOBU and ONE FORTY steakhouse.
One of the front desk agents sat down with us to go through the check-in process, which included an overview of the resort and the Preferred Partner Amenities that were provided via our travel agent. This included a daily breakfast credit of $126 per day, a room upgrade, and $100 dining credit.
Afterwards, she walked us to our room and stopped at the large map of Lanai in the lobby along the way to highlight some of the key features of the island.
The resort is huge, and the walk to our room from the lobby took a solid 5-10 minutes. During the walk, we stopped to chat with the hotel’s rescue birds, including this colorful guy.
As you may expect at a beach resort, there was a beach theme to the decor.
We had booked a partial ocean view room which ended up being located at the end of one of the hotel’s wings, which provided great privacy since there was minimal foot traffic.
My initial reaction upon entering the room was the same as in the lobby – while the room didn’t exude in-your-face luxury, you could just tell that the finishings were top-notch and that immense attention to detail had been put into the Japanese-inspired design.
The centerpiece of the room was this plush and comfortable king sized bed where I slept like a rock each night.
Everything in the room could be controlled with the touch of a button, from the temperature all the way to the lighting and curtains.
The room’s iPad contained more details about the resort, and could even be used to put in requests to the front desk, concierge, housekeeping, or room service.
There was a desk area next to the huge 72-inch television.
And the koi-shaped light was another reminder of the Japanese influence.
The bathroom was truly amazing, starting with the double vanities which even featured fog-resistant TV’s built into the mirrors. It doesn’t get much better than watching re-runs of Game of Thrones while you’re brushing your teeth and getting ready in the morning.
And the best part of the Japanese-inspired design was this Toto toilet, which had all the bells and whistles that you could ever hope for. This included the motion sensor to lift the seat as you walked in, and I had a hard time adjusting back to reality after having this feature in my life for four days.
The Plumeria & Awapuhi branded toiletries were great.
The sliding room in the loom led out to the private lanai which featured a couple seats and wooden racks for drying towels and swimsuits.
And this was our West-facing view of the ocean which was perfect for catching the sunset each night.
Among the hotel’s facilities, the main attraction were the pools, which were expertly partitioned into various sections to provide more privacy for guests.
We spent most of our time at the adults-only pool and hot tub here which was always quiet.
The main pool was much more crowded and included two more hot tubs.
More than any other resort we’ve been to, the ratio of guests to loungers was well proportioned. At any point in time during the day, we could walk up and could have our pick of 5+ loungers in any given location. Even though the hotel was at 90% capacity, it never felt that way, and especially not at the pools.
Also, one of the unique things that the hotel did was to provide a mini-water cooler as part of the standard pool service. It was great to have ice water on tap, and a smart and efficient way to make sure each guest was well hydrated without having to track down a server each time for refills. This seems like the default approach that resorts should take.
With the pools up on the hill, there were also nice views down to the beach below.
Food and Beverage
The breakfast buffet was spectacular and the food was of the highest quality. Our breakfast credit was enough to cover the buffet each day, which also included additional dishes from an a la carte menu.
The highlight of the buffet was the sashimi, which included the best smoked salmon I’ve ever had, and also house cured ono and ahi tuna sashimi. The fish was so incredibly fresh, and tasted like it had been caught that morning (and may even have). I probably had no fewer than 20 pieces of sashimi each day.
And of course how can you not love the malasada conveyer belt which churned out these fresh fried dough balls which were then smothered in sugar and caramel sauce.
The buffet also included a mix of Chinese, Korean and Japanese dishes, like the miso-glazed cod below, and a selection of fresh pastries.
The were several a la carte selections to choose from, and my favorites were the eggs benedict and breakfast burrito, along with the bacon and Portuguese sausage.
While we skipped lunch on most days, we did stop by VIEWS at the Manele golf course for lunch one day, primarily to check out the gorgeous views from the top of the hill.
My wife and I put our dining credit to good use and split a seafood salad and a burger.
We also tried NOBU for dinner one night, which was our first visit to any NOBU restaurant anywhere in the world.
We ordered the tasting menu which started off with a couple fantastic sashimi dishes, including octopus and salmon here.
Followed by mackerel.
And finally, toro topped with caviar along with hamachi yellowtail.
The last course was this Japanese wagyu beef which was cooked on a hot lava rock. The beef was melt-in-your-mouth delicious like the steak we had at DONS de la Nature in Tokyo, although I found the lava rock kind of gimmicky and resulted in the meat being a little more cooked than I would have liked by the time it got to our table.
Lastly, the first of two desserts to wrap up – bananas foster.
And finally, a chocolate cake imprinted with the NOBU sign.
We also spent a good amount of time at the Sports Bar, since it was the middle of the NBA Conference finals and there were games on everyday. This was definitely the place to be, and the place was rocking, especially during Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. There was a great selection of beers and food here, including this lobster roll.
And the venison pizza.
Check out part II for more detail on activities at the hotel and beyond.
Overall, our stay at the Four Seasons Lanai was everything that we were hoping for. Even though we were just a 45-minute ferry ride off the coast of Maui, it truly felt like a private island getaway and had the quiet and relaxing vibe that allowed us to unplug and recharge.
The newly refurbished rooms and facilities at the hotel were top-notch, and other than a couple hiccups with housekeeping, the service was impeccable, highlighted by the breakfast staff, and the pool and beach attendants. The Four Seasons is pretty much the only game in town on Lanai, but even though there isn’t much competition, it doesn’t stop them from going above and beyond to deliver a phenomenal guest experience, and I can’t wait to return.